15 Beautiful Spaniel Breeds for Active Owners (With Pictures)

beautiful spaniel breeds

Spaniels are charming dogs loved around the world for their upbeat personalities, good looks, and loyal temperaments. They’re many hunter’s dream companion, having been bred to flush, fetch, and find all kinds of different prey.

It’s thought that most Spaniel breeds originated in Spain, hence the name, but some others believe their origins lie further east.

There are 15 wonderful Spaniel dogs recognized by the American Kennel Club. Whilst they’re similar in appearance and personality, there are a couple of key differences too.

It’s important to research any pup well before you bring it into your pack, to make sure you can give it the best life possible.

Breed Characteristics of Spaniels

Spaniels are generally characterized by long floppy ears, a wide muzzle, and a wavy coat. Most Spaniel dog breeds are medium-sized pups although there are a few that are smaller or bigger.

Spaniels are very intelligent dogs and usually very active. They’re affectionate, devoted to their owners, and need lots of physical and mental stimulation.

They can be all kinds of different colors, including black and white, red, brown, and white. They sometimes have ticking or larger patches of other color too.

If your pooch has a longer coat, you’ll need to groom them every so often to keep their coat looking sleek and wash them whenever they start to smell (or they roll in something).

15 Beautiful Spaniel Breeds

Here are the 15 AKC-recognized Spaniel breeds for you to look through. It’s really important to research your future pup breed well, so you can ensure they suit your lifestyle and pup-parent knowledge.

#1: American Water Spaniel

american water spaniel breed

The American Water Spaniel is a beautiful, smart, curious, and hard-working gun dog, bred in the lake area of the Midwest.

These sturdy dogs are very athletic, and mid-sized, and are recognizable thanks to their gorgeous, thick brown coats. Some pups have tight curls and others have looser, wavier coats.

American Water Spaniels need lots of daily exercise and love to run around after balls and toys. As well as plenty of physical exercise, these dogs must be mentally stimulated.

They love going on hunts and are known for being versatile working dogs that can both catch and retrieve. These pups really need a job to do and can become frustrated and barky if left to get bored.

#2: Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

cavalier king charles spaniel

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are adorable dogs that are loved around the world. They’re a great mix of toy dog breed affection and typical Spaniel determination and activity levels. They come in several coat colors including a beautiful shade of red, tan, and Blenheim.

These wonderful dogs are very intelligent, sweet-natured, and loving and enjoy spending time with their favorite humans. They’re a sociable and eager-to-please Spaniel breed that was bred to be the perfect companion for nobility.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are a great option for owners who are looking for a slightly more relaxed Spaniel dog, but one that still loves to go on fun walks and play.

There are also some amazing Cavalier King Charles Spaniel mixed breeds too, such as the Cavapoo.

#3: Clumber Spaniel

clumber spaniel

Clumber Spaniels are the largest of the flushing dog breeds accepted by the AKC. These pups are excellent hunting dogs that form strong bonds with their owners and are exceptionally loyal.

They’re a little more relaxed than some other Spaniel breeds but they do need regular exercise and time spent outdoors.

These dogs are white and may have some spotted areas of orange or lemon. The Clumber is really a man’s best friend – and as your best friend, you can expect to put up with some drool too.

They’re relentless when out hunting (they have an amazing sense of smell) and a friendly, caring, and devoted pooch at home.

#4: English Cocker Spaniel

english cocker spaniel

The English Cocker Spaniel is such a beautiful dog and a loving family companion in America and across the pond. These energetic dogs are sociable, intelligent, and a popular choice for active families.

They need lots of daily exercise and mental stimulation too – otherwise, you may find them seeking out their own entertainment.

Many people confuse Cocker and Springer Spaniels but a key difference is often their coat color. Cocker Spaniels can have beautiful red coats whereas Springers are often white and another color such as black or brown.

#5: Boykin Spaniel

boykin spaniel

The Boykin Spaniel is a stunning, tenacious, and lively Spaniel breed with a love for being outdoors and with their owners. They’re usually a little larger than Cocker Spaniels but more compact than Springers.

These feathery-eared dogs are known for their rich brown coats which range from a beautiful liver color through to a deep chocolate one.

These Spaniel dogs were bred to hunt and retrieve in lakes and marshland (they even have webbed feet!) meaning your Boykin Spaniel will probably love swimming too.

Boykins are really sweet dogs and are very playful at home. They’ll love snuffle mats to keep their noses entertained and other toys to keep them active.

#6: Springer Spaniel

springer spaniel

The Springer Spaniel is a beautiful, sweet-faced Spaniel breed full of personality and stamina. They’re very active dogs and need lots of time playing outdoors.

They’re highly intelligent pups and love to be challenged (fun puzzle toys can be a great way of keeping them entertained) and they need lots of daily exercise too. They’ll love accompanying you on a run, hike, or long walk in the woods.

Springer Spaniels have an amazing sense of smell and are often used by bomb squads or other branches of the police.

They’re very loyal dogs that enjoy working hard but they can also be amazing family pets. They love playing with children and make fun and affectionate companions.

#7: Welsh Springer Spaniel

welsh springer spaniel

The Welsh Springer Spaniel is closely related to the English Springer Spaniel but they are a bit smaller and only have red and white coats. These dogs are seriously charming, affectionate, loyal, and very versatile when out in the fields.

They’ll love chasing after toys, exploring the great outdoors, and curling up at the end of a long day.

Whilst similar to English Springer Spaniels, Welshies tend to be a little calmer and have a little less stamina (although they still need lots of exercise).

These pups can be prone to a bit of separation anxiety if left for long periods. They’re people-pleasing pups and form strong bonds with their owners which means they love to be around them whenever they can be.

#8: Sussex Spaniel

sussex spaniel

The Sussex Spaniel is a wonderful, even-tempered dog with a stunning, liver-colored coat. These pooches are lively, friendly, and need lots of physical and mental stimulation. They’re natural swimmers and will also enjoy long walks and accompanying you on a run.

Sussex Spaniels are really sweet and caring dogs that are devoted to their owners. Like other Spaniels, they require a bit of grooming as they have wonderfully wavy coats and love to explore in the undergrowth.

Because they are keen swimmers, it’s important to clean and dry their ears after they’ve taken a dip.

#9: Papillon


Many of us won’t be expecting to see the beautiful Papillon on a list of Spaniel breeds – but it’s true! These cute little Spaniels used to have the iconic floppy Spaniel ears until they were specifically bred to have erect, more butterfly-like ones.

Although one of the smallest Spaniel dogs, Papillons are certainly not lapdogs. These fiery little canines will require lots of your attention and time. They’re a good choice for those living in apartments but they will still need regular exercise to keep their brains and bodies healthy.

Papillons are highly intelligent dogs and love to be trained. They’re masters of learning tricks and will be happy to show off their skills to anyone willing to watch.

These pups can be several different colors including white and lemon, white and red, and white and sable.

#10: English Toy Spaniel

english toy spaniel

The English Toy Spaniel is a beautiful sporting breed that looks similar to the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. They’re very bright and enthusiastic dogs that can be a range of colors from black through to red.

Although smaller than some other breeds on the list, they shouldn’t be considered a lapdog either. These small red dogs are alert, agile, intelligent, and very willing to please.

A key difference between these dogs and other Spaniel breeds on the list is that English Toy Spaniels have a shorter snout. In fact, they’re considered a brachycephalic breed.

This can lead to a couple of health concerns that potential owners should be aware of. Make sure you don’t over-exercise your English Toy Spaniel and always give them plenty of water to help them relax and keep cool.

#11: Field Spaniel

field spaniel

The Field Spaniel is one of the rarer Spaniel dogs on the list but they’re just as beautiful and worthy of your attention as others. Field Spaniels closely resemble Cocker and Springer Spaniels and were originally bred to be excellent flushers.

Unfortunately, however, these pups were exposed to some pretty irresponsible breeding practices in the 1800s, and many of their features were exaggerated to extremes. When this happened, they were no longer considered excellent hunters or good show dogs and their numbers fell dramatically.

It wasn’t until the 1960s, when breeders reintroduced Cocker and Springer blood, that these pups gained some popularity and their numbers slowly began to grow.

Nowadays, they’re still considered fairly rare, but if you do get your paws on one, you’ll be getting a loveable and surprisingly docile dog breed.

#12: Irish Water Spaniel

irish water spaniel

This beautiful Irish dog breed looks a little like a Poodle and has a tightly curled, water-resistant coat that’s liver in color. They also have a rat-like tail which makes them easily recognizable!

These dogs are brave, tenacious, and full of spirit when out on a hunt or walk with their owners. They’re also very adoring and playful at home with the ones they love.

The Irish Water Spaniel is a typical sporting breed and is very active. They need lots of daily exercise and will love to chase after doggie soccer balls, go swimming, or on a long hike.

They’re smart and eager to please their owners but training sessions should be kept short and fun. They respond well to positive reinforcement and will always try to do their best to please their human companion.

#13: Nederlandse Kooikerhondje

Nederlandse Kooikerhondje

The Nederlandse Kooikerhondje is a beautiful red and white dog (although they sometimes look a little more orange) that was bred to hunt and flush out ducks. They’re very attentive and sweet-natured dogs with a determination to please their owners.

As with almost all the Spaniel breeds on this list, these pups are energetic and need lots of exercise per day.

These amazing companion dogs actually played a small part in the Dutch resistance during WWII. As is the case with many dog breeds during the time, their numbers declined dramatically during the war.

Baroness von Hardenbroek van Ammerstol set out to secretly breed these pups to keep their numbers thriving. According to the AKC, she managed to breed 52 litters!

#14: Brittany Spaniel

brittany spaniel

The Brittany Spaniel is a popular choice for hunters and active families on both sides of the Atlantic. These eager, joyful, and energetic dogs are usually a little taller than most Spaniels and have the look of a Pointer.

In fact, these pups are used to point at prey rather than flush them out like many other Spaniel breeds.

Brittany Spaniels have white and red coats that range in color from dark liver to a lighter orange. They’re quick-footed, lively, and very friendly dogs that get on well with other pups they’ve been socialized with and kids.

Britany Spaniels are very trainable dogs and excel in dog sports such as dock diving, agility, and flyball.

#15: Cocker Spaniel

Cocker Spaniel

You may be thinking I’m repeating myself, but there is actually a difference between the Cocker Spaniel and the English Cocker Spaniel (which is the one we’ve already mentioned).

English Cocker Spaniels are usually a little taller than Cocker Spaniels, but roughly the same length, which makes them look ‘boxier’ than a Cocker Spaniel.

Cocker Spaniels are happy-go-lucky dogs full of personality and affection. They’re playful with children, energetic, and love to have plenty of toys to keep them entertained. They have a medium-length coat that can be several different colors.

These pups are excellent companions for hunters but also make wonderful household pets. They’re intelligent and eager to learn from their owners.

Thinking About Adopting One of These Spaniel Breeds?

Spaniels are fun-loving dogs that are eager to work and play. Nearly all of the larger Spaniel breeds on this list need lots of exercise and attention from their owners.

They’ll accompany you on long walks and will love to play with other doggos in the park or go for a long swim. Any prospective pup parent thinking of adopting a Spaniel needs to know they’ll spend a lot of the day out of the house.

They also need to know that they’ll have a loving, excitable, and affectionate best friend for life.